Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
It turns out that going through gaming forums can be worthwhile as I’ve managed to dig out a little gem of a game. I know that I can trust Square Enix with RPGs, what with the long-standing Final Fantasy series and whatever else they’ve done, so upon recommendations from like-minded gamers (and especially those with a taste for RPG) I thought it would be a good idea to give Rocket Slime a try.
Now, what I will say is that it is childish in style and there was a real lack of hardcore RPG about it; needless to say, it was pretty off-putting and I was doubting how long I was going to play it for. The game mechanics are incredibly simple and there isn’t much to learn; you are a blob of slime and you can stretch and jump. The stretching is just a way of attacking and picking up items and jumping is just to traverse areas. You stretch to determine your strength and speed, while items are bumped to get them into the air to be caught on your head. Because you’re a blob of (elastic) slime, you bounce off walls and such like indestructible things. That’s it really, you jump and ping yourself around the levels.
The premise is that your village of slime-folk have been abducted by a gang of (what look like) platypuses and your challenge is to find them and send them back home. There are about six game worlds, each containing various numbers of slime-folk locked up in treasure chests. There are also enemies and items, and all three can be transported back to the village via the hand cart-and-rail systems that are dotted around each world. Throw the slime, enemy and/or items onto the carts and away they go. There are a couple of reasons why you want to do this: firstly, for the sake of completeness as you are told whether you have collected all the different items/enemies there are in each world; secondly and more importantly, the items can be used for the tank battles.
And this is where things get interesting. If you play on until the second world, you’ll be introduced to your battle tank - a hidden treasure of the slime people, buried for millions of years only to be activated at the time most needed. Throughout all but the first game world, there are tank battle arenas - essentially a podium that you step on to activate the fight - where you take on enemies in their own tanks. You’ll want to compete these as you’ll be saving a fellow slime each battle. Now, we’re not talking standard tanks; in fact, think Howl’s Moving Castle but with large turrets and you’re close. During the tank battles, you’re inside the tank itself and must feed the cannons with ammo (items collected from the game worlds), and the ammo is provided via chutes from various places inside the tank. Blob around the tank, pick up the ammo, return to the loading room and chuck the stuff in. Each ammo has a different damage rating and flying speed, and as you go further into the game, you’ll find a greater number of heavy-duty ammo. When you’ve knocked down the enemy tank’s HP to zero, then you are able to infiltrate and make your way to the heart (literally, as it’s a pulsing, metal heart) of their tank. Bust the heart and you win. However, the enemy will be doing the same and at times will invade your tank even before you’re down to zero HP.
There are two cannons, one aiming straight ahead, another making an arc-path. All of the character movement is displayed in the bottom screen, whilst information and maps are shown in the top. In the case of the tank battles, you’ll see the two tanks and the projectiles and their paths flying through the air. You’ll be making glances at the top screen because firing an item at an enemy’s item destroys both items, so you’ll either be wanting to do that as a defense tactic, or you’ll be wanting to avoid the incoming items so that you can get the heavy-hitters to land on the enemy. It’s not incredibly tactical, it’s just to-and-froing, but it makes things a little more interesting a tense.
At some point, you’ll rescue a platypus that decides to help you after having been shunned by his fellow friends. You’ll then be able to change the weapon/item load out (there are 30 slots to fill) and halfway through the game, you’ll be given help by fellow slimes and you can choose up to three (from a number of slimes) to assist you in your battles. Then there’ll be the chance to combine items to make different and stronger items. I suspect that this is where a quarter of the game lies, because this isn’t a particularly hard game by any means.
Unless you haven’t a sense of timing in you, you won’t fail to complete the majority of the game without dying (in either the game worlds or in tank battles). In fact, I only failed the last two tank battles, the first because I didn’t have the right weapon load-out, and the second because I was completely trounced unawares (if you fail, you just go back to the village as if nothing happened - it doesn’t seem that you lose anything). Furthermore, even when your tank is at zero HP, you can still keep firing items until the enemy is at zero and then invade the heart of the tank. Depending on which crew-mates you selected you might be able to set them to guard the tank of enemies, otherwise there’s any chance the invading enemies will be faffing about breaking the machines dotted around and not bothering about the tank’s heart. Even with the final battle, the same tactic applies; defeating the invading enemies is possible as they just get resurrected and on the last battle, the enemy resurrects next to you. It was surprisingly easy if you just keep cool and don’t panic. Zero doesn’t mean instant lose, it just means you should be wary.
And, frankly, the game is incredibly repetitive. You get the standard different worlds of jungle, sand, sky, etc. but other than the colour palette and decor there wasn’t anything unique about any of them. Same puzzle type, same jumping and whatnot. They are practically carbon-copies of themselves. But neither the levels nor the game was dull. How? I don’t know, but it may have been the ease of the game and knowing that I only had so many slimes left to save that drove me towards the end. There wasn’t that wonderful feeling of satisfaction from completing Rocket Slime as you would get from other (fondly remembered) RPGs. There wasn’t that ‘oh-no-when-will-I-see-you-again’ sigh of leaving your characters to their ending. No bonding with characters. No connection with the game. Nothing. Just finished.
And I don’t even know if it was entirely a waste of my time where I could have put the 12-hours it took me to complete Rocket Slime (quite lengthy for a game, in this day and age) into completing the hard-level of GRAW. Just like the game, all I can give is this ambiguous comment: I couldn’t recommend it, but if it’s thrown your way, then I wouldn’t pass it up.
Six out of ten